Okay, now that I’m without Internet access where we’re staying, I’ve been writing the content of the blog and pictures while off-line, then coming to the Internet cafe to put everything on the blog. It’s a little inconvenient, but seems to be working okay.
What I miss most, however, about not having the Internet is just being able to look things up that we’re learning about, or finding answers to questions as we have them. I’m used to instant access to information, and I didn’t realize how much I relied on it.
That said, here is a summary of our trip to Taboga Island. The girls loved the ferry ride over there. It’s about an hour away from Panama City, on the Pacific side. It was extremely windy that afternoon and the boat rocked back and forth a lot. I got a little sea sick, but was fortunately able to sleep in my chair for almost half the ride, so arrived only slightly dazed.
Jeannette, who owns the house we’re renting: Tres Terrazas, met us at the dock, and helped us get our things to the house. It was a beautiful place, with separate rooms for us and the girls, and we appreciated the privacy. The bathroom and kitchen were very large and tastefully decorated.
The girls couldn’t get enough of the hammocks out on the front porch. This was their first time in a hammock, and they wanted to be in them every chance they got. They liked hiding in them and playing peek-a-boo. Jen and I also enjoyed swinging in the hammocks and enjoying the incredible view of the ocean and the boats.
After getting situated at the house, Jeannette took us on a little car ride (actually a golf-cart sized mini truck) around the town. Emily and I stood up in the back of the truck, while Jen and Marie rode with Jeannette in the front. It was a fun ride, and we got a good introduction into the town, and the various restaurants she recommended.
Taboga a very small place. There are no banks or ATMs, and only one restaurant takes credit cards. There is no grocery store, just a little convenience store-type shop, although they do bake fresh bread daily, which we got to try for about 30 cents – delicious! Jeannette and many of the other residents go into the city every 10 days or so for groceries, cash, and other necessities.
It was high tide when we got there in the afternoon, so we couldn’t see the beach, and were wondering where the beach was. However, by evening, and especially the next day, there was plenty of beach, and it was beautiful. From our balcony, you could see a small island, a beach (and the ocean of course), and the distant skyscrapers of Panama City all in one view.
We ate at a really cute restaurant at the Vereda Tropical Hotel twice. It had beautiful music playing, and the fresh scent of jasmine flowers filled the air. Sea Bass (corvina) is a very popular menu item in Panama, we’ve noticed, and Jen had one served to her as an entire fish (head, tail and all) which she enjoyed. I had a piece of sea-bass in a coconut passion fruit sauce. Delicious. The girls shared a pizza. It was by far the best restaurant we tried on the island.
We’ve ordered fruit juice with almost every meal we could since we’ve been in Panama. We’ve had some interesting kinds of juices that are a bit harder to find in the US. For example, pear juice (very refreshing), peach juice, strawberry juice, papaya juice, and pinneapple guava juice, among others. They also like to make them into a shake (batido) which is also good, but I think I like them better straight.
The next day was beach day! We got up early so we could have time at the beach before the tide came in. It’s a really neat beach because it’s a sand bar between two islands, so you have the ocean on either side of you, and an island on both the opposite sides. The water isn’t extremely clean, with a little bit of trash, possibly floating over from the city or from nearby boats waiting to enter the canal. But we still got in and played a bit.
We found lots of pretty sea shells, built sandcastles, and Disney characters in the sand, played in the water, and laid out on our towels. Some other cute kids took Emily and Marie by the hand as soon as we got there and started playing with them. The kids here are very friendly. It was really cute.
It’s extremely hot on the island. We applied SPF 50 sunblock and stayed for a couple hours without re-applying, so we did end up getting a bit burned (mostly on our backs). But it wasn’t severe. Later we were told that the UV index goes up to 15 here, instead of 10 like in the US, and during April when we’re closest to the sun, they recommend you don’t go outside for more than 15 minutes at a time. You really can feel the heat of the sun here.
The Island itself is of course beautiful, with lots of greenery, the ocean, and a cute town. But there is quite a bit of garbage here. People haven’t learned how to clean up after themselves very well, I’m told. We went through a little hike in the mountains, and saw some beautiful butterflies and a big spider, but also a lot of garbage. There are a few beautiful homes here, but also some homes in pretty bad shape. The locals we met were all extremely friendly, and often stopped to talk for a minute.
As far as activities, there’s not a lot to do on Taboga besides relax, since the town is so small, but if that’s your goal, it’s a great place to stay. We really liked the rental house where we stayed. It was in a great location, within walking distance (5 min) to the beach, and just 2-3 minutes to restaurants. My only complaint is that the Internet didn’t work as it was supposed to. I could connect to the network, but couldn’t browse. They’re looking into fixing this immediately for future visitors. The Internet isn’t exactly reliable on Taboga island anyway, I’m told. But despite that, we had a great time!